It was pretty cool in the morning, and even yesterday afternoon had been only warm, not hot, so it seemed at least for now that our difficulties with the heat were over. In fact we even put in our jacket linings before heading off.
Soon after leaving Pinedale and the Wind Rivers behind us, we saw another part of the Rockies chain looming in the distance: the Tetons. And after a surprisingly short time, we were in and amongst the foothills. The character of this area was different from either the Wind Rivers or the Uintas, though it’s difficult to describe exactly how. Maybe there was a bit more green, perhaps it was the blue / dark clarity of the stream we ascended along, but suffice it to say we were able to see what makes the Jackson Hole / Grand Teton area so attractive to America’s well-off with outdoors interests.
Eventually we came into Jackson, the major town in the area, and it was interesting comparing things with Steamboat Springs. Steamboat is much smaller for one – whereas it has one main street, Jackson was a rat’s nest of business district, most of it snarled with traffic. The character of the streets was similar though – outfitters, coffee shops, restaurants, brewpubs, much like Pinedale. We also happened to check a few real estate prices, and here the difference really revealed itself. The Jackson area was basically only millionaires need apply, making Steamboat almost seem everyman’s in comparison. Where did the difference come from? There were skiiers in both places, but where Steamboat also excels in mountain biking, Jackson’s strong suits are hunting and rafting. I guess for whatever reason afficionados of the latter disciplines have the larger bank accounts. Fortunately, although the climate is a little more moderate in Jackson, we both could see that our own interests were in parallel with our financial abilities.
After working hard and finally extricating ourselves from the lunchtime traffic jams of Jackson, we carried on past the high skyline of the Tetons. Although the Wind Rivers have a number of glaciers, we weren’t able to see them from our western approach. Here, however, we found ourselves on the east side of the Tetons, and we could see the glacier on Grand Teton coming straight down towards us. A sign told of a couple of others visible, but we couldn’t see them, and indeed, perhaps they have now disappeared completely.
We continued on through Grand Teton park itself, and then into Yellowstone. There we had lunch, made a campsite reservation (thankfully, we were there on a weekday, but this was still warranted), and then tackled the geysers. Geyser, or “geysir” (pronounced gay-sear), is actually an Icelandic word, and they had been found there long before any of our civilization made it to Yellowstone, but I remembered from my previous trip that the geysers here are more plentiful and generally more impressive than any we saw in Iceland. And so we wandered around the Upper Geyser Basin (Old Faithful area) getting splashed here, steam-bathed there, and generally enjoying ourselves. The weather also was not bad.
Eventually we finished up and headed to our campground, no full, seeing a couple of buffalo on the way (one of which caused a long traffic jam), and then some elk in the meadow near our site. It was, I suppose, a typical Yellowstone experience. Unfortunately we did not have the time to get off the beaten path and have an atypical experience. Like my brother and I had years before when we backpacked two days in to a remote geyser, got snowed on, caught some trout, and battled mosquitos. Thankfully the mosquitos were completely absent this time, and I didn’t miss the snow, but we could have done with the trout.